Questions Remain in Sullivan's Sudden Split with UVA

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A day after the shocking announcement that University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan is stepping down, she is already out of town - though where, why and for how long are not clear.  There are lingering questions about the entire situation.

In addition, late Monday afternoon a statement was sent from the University of Virginia's Faculty Senate, bashing the board of visitors about the campus-wide email they sent announcing Sullivan's split from the university.

The group is not happy with the news and is now demanding an explanation. The lengthy statement came out just before 4:00 Monday afternoon.

UVA's faculty senate executive council says it is shocked and dismayed by the news and they were blindsided by the decision.

The group praised Sullivan saying, "She excited faculty across the grounds and created a sense of optimism about the university's future."

The council also said that "We find the board's statement inadequate and unsatisfactory."

Adding, "We are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in university leadership."

Sullivan was in Charlottesville Sunday attending an event, but after knocking on her door Monday morning, NBC29 was told she is out of town. Sullivan signed a five-year contract with UVA, making $680,000 per year.  She's been with the university for about two years.

UVA Rector Helen Dragas tells NBC29 that they are still in the process of amending Sullivan's employment agreement, so we don't know what the financial terms of her departure include.  That should be completed within a week or two.

Helen Dragas, UVA Rector said, "We know that the university has exceptional potential and the board of visitors believes that we need a bold, strategic, visionary leader to take us to the next level."

NBC29 has also reached out to all 18 members of the board of visitors.  As of now, none are willing to comment on Sullivan's sudden split from the university or the reasons behind her leaving.

Final contractual details on Sullivan's departure will be released in the next week or two. NBC29 has obtained a copy of Sullivan's original employment agreement.

It is unclear how the university is labeling her termination.  If it's "for cause", she'll get a year's worth of her base salary, which is $485,000.  If it's a resignation, her contract says she's entitled to nothing.    

The full board of visitors is not required to vote on the matter.  The executive committee - which held an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon - accepted the resignation with a 3-0 vote.     

In the meantime, Sullivan has left town for an undetermined amount of time.  Now the search is on for her replacement.

Dragas said, "No.  I won't speak to potential candidates at this time.  We've not even begun a search process."

That search should start later this summer.  A committee took around six months to find Sullivan.  There is no word on who the interim president will be when Sullivan steps down on August 15.

The NBC29 newsroom received the following statement from the UVa Faculty Senate Executive Council on the Board of Visitors Decision Concerning  President Sullivan

Yesterday, the Faculty of the  University of Virginia, along with the rest of the University community, learned that the Board of Visitors and President Sullivan "mutually agreed that she will step down as  president of the University of Virginia effective August 15, 2012." We are shocked and dismayed  by this news. We were blindsided by this decision.
The Faculty Senate Executive Council has worked closely and effectively with President Sullivan during her two-year term.  She has impressed us with her intelligence, leadership, and commitment to transparent administration and open, honest communication.  We witnessed her renowned dedication to higher education. She excited faculty across the Grounds and created a sense of optimism about the University's future.

We find the Board's statement inadequate and unsatisfactory.  We understand that the University, like most of its peer institutions, faces tremendous challenges. We believe President Sullivan made meaningful progress toward meeting these challenges, and put in place strategies and personnel to move the University forward.

As elected representatives of the faculty, we are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in University leadership. We intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and will meet with the Board  as soon as possible.   The Faculty Senate will continue to gather and give voice to faculty views and do all we can to preserve and protect strong faculty governance at the University.

We are determined and committed that  Mr. Jefferson's University will continue to be a beacon of excellence, honor, and compassion  in a troubled  world.

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